I do mean “legendary.” Even I’ve heard of Don Cherry, and I only watch the sport when Team USA’s playing an elimination game at the Winter Olympics.
He’s 85 years old, an institution of hockey broadcasting, and known for being “colorful.” (Literally.) You would think he’d need to go waaaaay over the line for his network to dump him unceremoniously for crimes against wokeness.
But you would be wrong. Here’s what ended a 34-year career:
Comment that got Don Cherry fired:
“People … come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk & honey. At least you can pay a couple of bucks for poppies .. These guys pay for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys pay the biggest price." pic.twitter.com/QWoQPaiY47
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) November 11, 2019
Believe it, says Sportsnet:
Statement from Sportsnet: pic.twitter.com/LRKrww0AQ1
— Sportsnet PR (@SportsnetPR) November 11, 2019
Was it the phrase “you people” that sunk him? He’s pleading for assimilation but undercutting his own point by treating Canadian immigrants as separate and apart, a distinct people that needs to get with the cultural program.
But he’s doing it in service to an honorable cause, showing respect for the sacrifices of Canada’s fallen. And he is, after all, encouraging them to assimilate, not harrumphing that they don’t belong or should be forced to leave.
This is not a firing offense. Worthy of a reprimand, perhaps: “Only off-the-rack black or blue blazers for the season, Don.” But not termination.
The truly Orwellian flourish was getting his broadcasting partner, Ron MacLean, to denounce himself for having stood silently and even flashed a thumbs-up after Cherry’s rant. I haven’t seen an apology like this since Kevin Kline hung John Cleese out a window:
“During last night’s broadcast, Don made comments that were hurtful and prejudiced and I wish I had handled myself differently,” he tweeted. “It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it.
“I have worked with Don for 30 years, and we both love hockey. But last night, I know we failed you. I see hockey as part of what unites us. I have the honour of travelling across our country to celebrate Canada’s game, and our diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths.”
Cherry is reportedly “quite hurt they would do this on Remembrance Day of all days.” Poor guy. If only he’d done something more innocuous, like repeatedly wearing blackface as an adult, he’d have qualified to earn the support of millions of Canadian liberals who are happy to see him booted off the air today.